Courtesy of Mari Hernandez
In support of creative projects by local Latinx artists, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) partnered with the City’s Department of Arts and Culture to award grants of $5,400 to five San Antonio-based artists.
The grants, funded through the NALAC Fund for the Arts (NFA), were announced Wednesday and were awarded to Mari Hernandez, Marisela Barrera, Pablo Miguel Martínez, Raul Gonzalez, and Sarah Castillo. Each is working on projects in various disciplines this year, ranging from visual arts to theater productions to poem and essay collections, and will use the grant funds to bring their artistic visions to fruition.
Barrera will use the grant funds to adapt her series of short stories set in South Texas into an original theatrical production, Ruby Reds, Big Birds & Burras. This unique opportunity will also allow her to keep stock of her work, which will facilitate submitting her art for publication or award consideration in the future.
“I have a 20-year career in making theater, but I don’t have a lot of documentation about it,” Barrera said. “This [grant] is going to help me document my work” through photos, video, and potential print publication.
The local awards are part of NALAC’s larger gift of $309,500 in grants to 49 Latinx artists and organizations throughout the country, funded through NALAC’s NFA, Transnational Cultural Remittances (TCR), and Diverse Art Spaces (DAS) grant programs. This year’s grantees represent more than 40 communities across the nation and a large number of latinidades including Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Caribbean, Argentine, Chicana, Chilean, Cuban, Huichol, Mexican-American, and Peruvian.
“Our grants serve as a catalyst for innovation and are designed to help artists and arts and cultural organizations develop their creative capacity and make lasting contributions to their communities and to society as a whole,” NALAC president and CEO María López de León stated in a news release.
Since its inception more than 25 years ago, NALAC has been “exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development, and cultivation of the Latino arts field,” according to its website. It claims to be the only organization in the country that offers grant support specifically to national Latinx artists and arts organizations, which are largely underrepresented in the mainstream arts sector.
It’s Fund for the Arts was created specifically to address the lack of substantial funding for Latinx art throughout the U.S. Since it was created in 2004, it has contributed nearly $1 million to a diverse group of national Latinx artists and Latinx arts and culture organizations.
“We don’t have enough institutions who are commending us, who are awarding us, who are supporting us and the work that we’re doing especially when it’s specifically tied to our cultural experiences,” said Castillo, who is working on a visual arts project exploring the Chicana experience in the context of identity, mental health, and culture. “I’m honored and I’m thankful [for the grant]. It’s an incredible experience to have an institution that is nationally recognized recognize you for your own personal work.”
Along with NALAC’s investments, national, regional, and local funders contribute to the nonprofit’s grant programs. This year, from the NALAC Fund for the Arts, 10 Latinx arts organizations were awarded grants, two national Latinx artists were awarded Master Artist grants of $15,000, that will foster collaborations between master artists and mentees, and 13 emerging, mid-career, and established artists were awarded $5,000 grants.
From the Transnational Cultural Remittances program, nine grants will foster collaboration among artists from the United States, Mexico, and Central America and the Diverse Art Spaces program will award six grants to national organizations to present or commission work by Latino artists.
A full list of this year’s NALAC grantees can be found here.